3 Aug 2017

Pacific film about grief wins international award

2:30 pm on 3 August 2017

A short feature Pacific film has won the Peoples Choice award at the recent international Public Broadcasting Service Online Film Festival.

The film, Maria, is about the matriarch of a large Polynesian family who lies bedridden and silent, unable or unwilling to speak after a long illness.

But when a family crisis strike, Maria gets some unexpected help as she struggles to reunite her fractured family.

The film was written by Samoan Tokelauan Taofia Pelesasa, and directed by Samoan Jeremiah Tauamiti.

Maria is played by Leiataua Si'ulepa who at 80 years-old is fast making a name for herself in acting roles in New Zealand.

Cook Islander Karin Williams produced the film which centers around the immense loss and strain faced by the family after the passing of a young child.

She said the film was based on a true event in the family of the writer and the passing of his niece to whom the film was dedicated.

Taofia Pelesasa wrote the script as a tribute to the women of his aiga [family] and their resilience, according to Williams.

She also told PBS in an interview that the writer wanted to show the quiet strength of mothers who shoulder the burden of responsibility for elderly parents and young children, often in silence.